6 + 9 + 6: the mathematical rule that protects the health of the newborn. And healthy nutrition is essential before conception
6 + 9 + 6. It is not a simple addition, but rather a sort of mathematical rule to ensure that the newborn begins his journey in the world well, a journey that begins even before conception (the first 6). Then there are 9 months of pregnancy, and finally the first six months of life, when breastfeeding becomes the optimal therapeutic "strategy" for the baby's development. Vassilios Fanos, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Cagliari, defined this path as part of the Congress of the Italian Society of Preventive and Social Pediatrics (SIPPS).
The first thousand days, and beyond
It is essential to make the right choices in the first thousand days. According to the expert, "making the right choices, making prevention in the first thousand days, means giving the child a bonus that will last a lifetime". The problem to be controlled is called "epigotoxicity" or the combination of toxicity and genetics.
Genetics is the heritage we have received from our parents and from previous generations. But there is something that matters a lot, in environmental terms: this is why it is important to intervene on environmental epigenetic factors, for example by eating less and better, doing physical activity, reducing stress, keeping away from pollution as much as possible, avoiding smoking and the alcohol.
Attention to the first thousand days from conception is also linked to "the most important organ we have, namely the brain. This organ weighs, at the birth of a full-term baby, about 300 grams and grows by 1 gram per day in the following months, to reach its almost final weight of about 1.3 kilos at the end of the thousand days. We then have two other brains – the intestine with its microbiota and the immune system. These three systems all mature in the same period, influencing each other. And it is precisely from how these three brains are structured and their relationships that the quality of the child's health derives, even in his adult life. Anything that can affect this development has long-term effects ”.
How to do prevention, even before conception
Prevention, also understood as healthy lifestyle choices, is therefore becoming increasingly precocious. "Over time – explains the researcher – the term early has always moved its stake earlier than the age of life and today we talk about" fetal programming "," perinatal programming "and" health development during development ".
Today we even talk about the '6 + 9 + 6' formula: starting from 6 months before conception, continuing with 9 months of pregnancy and then with the first 6 months after birth. These last six months correspond more or less to those of breastfeeding ".
There are several factors to watch out for during the pre-pregnancy period. Among the environmental ones, the most important is nutrition. An attention that must be paid not only to the nutrition of the future mother, but also of the father.
"Bad eating habits, alcohol consumption, smoking on the part of the father – reiterates the professor at the University of Cagliari – can have an influence on the health of the child who will be born, turning on or off some genes. Being careful during this period can be very useful, obviously if the pregnancy is planned ”.
What diet to follow then? "Our Mediterranean diet – specifies the expert – is an extraordinary asset, a right mix of foods that can help ensure the right mix of nutrients".
Another very important prevention factor, once the baby is born, is breastfeeding. “The ancient Egyptians – the researcher explains, citing an anecdote – considered mother's milk a magical liquid capable of curing diseases. Today, this belief is a reality thanks to the stem cells contained in breast milk. The latter is a powerful bioreactor and is what the baby's intestine needs. Several studies have shown that the baby's intestine increases its volume by up to 40% in contact with the maternal colostrum. It was also discovered regarding the power of breast milk, which contains multipotent stem cells (particularly concentrated in the colostrum) which are captured by the cells of the infant's intestine and from there transported to different organs, eventually colonizing the brain and transforming themselves. in nervous tissue. It is therefore very important to promote breastfeeding as much as possible ".